Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar And The New Protest Moment

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With Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance and Beyoncé at the Super Bowl, we look at the new moment for black protest music.

Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Within weeks of Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, D’Angelo was out with "The Charade," singing about black pain, black strain, degradation. The new music on that protest theme has not stopped. Now it’s at the top. Beyoncé’s crew in Black Panther berets at the Super Bowl.  Kendrick Lamar singing in chains at the Grammys. Tough lyrics. Tough truths. This hour On Point, our striking new, high-profile moment in black protest music.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Renee Graham, music and pop culture critic. Contributor to the Boston Globe, WBUR's ARTery, and more. (@reneeygraham)

Jamilah King, senior staff writer at Mic News. (@jamilahking)

From Tom’s Reading List

Mic News: With Two Performances, Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar Changed Black Storytelling Forever — "What's clear is that black artists are no longer content to keep their political selves hidden. What's also clear is that there's long been an appetite for this brand of unapologetically black art, and we've finally entered a political moment where black artists don't necessarily have to risk their careers to create and perform it.

New York Times: Beyoncé in ‘Formation’: Entertainer, Activist, Both? — "Beyoncé’s control is an exquisite study in self-restraint, especially in the current social-media-saturated climate. One could also read this as an existential call to action to her listeners and viewers: 'Black women, join me and make your own formation, a power structure that doesn’t rely on traditional institutions.'"

The Guardian: Kendrick Lamar galvanizes Grammys with politically charged performance -- "After a funereal first two hours, rapper Kendrick Lamar blew the roof off the Grammy awards in Los Angeles with a high-octane performance of three songs songs from his 11-times nominated album To Pimp a Butterfly. The performance, which like Lamar’s music was studded with strong allusions to racial inequality, the prison-industrial complex and black identity, brought the audience to its feet."

Watch Beyoncé's Super Bowl Halftime Performance

Watch Kendrick Lamar's Grammy Performance


This program aired on February 19, 2016.


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